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Saudi Arabia Next Hotspot For Healthcare Services Investors

A contingent of Singapore-based health services companies is currently in on a five-day official business visit. Led by International Enterprise (IE) Singapore, representatives from 11 companies arrived in Riyadh on Friday (Jan. 29). The mission will also hold talks in Jeddah.

The business delegation comprises healthcare services providers and other companies spanning the healthcare value chain, including healthcare equipment manufacturers and healthcare IT solutions providers.

The group will be visiting government healthcare agencies such as the Ministry of Health (MOH), other public healthcare providers such as the National Guard Healthcare Affairs, top hospitals in the public and private sectors, as well as private investors keen on healthcare partnerships.

The mission is timely as the Saudi Arabian government has placed increasing importance on the provision of healthcare for its population.

Saudi Arabia’s annual population growth rate of 2.4 percent is relatively high compared to the average global population growth rate of 1.17 percent, which could potentially mean greater demand for .

Yew Sung Pei, assistant chief executive officer of IE Singapore, who is leading the mission, said “the large market and emphasis placed on healthcare services make Saudi Arabia a potential partner for our healthcare services players across the entire value chain. Through the mission, we hope to better understand the healthcare sector in Saudi Arabia, including the trends and regulations, manpower issues and needs of the population. Singapore’s healthcare sector’s development has equipped our companies with well-established healthcare infrastructure, skilled medical expertise and the latest medical technology, which place them in good stead to offer quality solutions in hospital management, operations, training, consultancy, equipment, and more.”

In 2009, Saudi Arabia’s total expenditure on the healthcare sector amounted to $16.7 billion, a significant 26.5 percent increase from the previous year’s expenditure of $13.2 billion.

In the government’s SR475 billion ($126.7 billion) economic stimulus budget announced last year, 10 percent of it – SR52 billion ($13 billion), was earmarked for health services and social development.

In addition, the number of public and private hospitals in the country also increased from 314 in 2001 to more than 400 currently, and is projected to increase to around 500 in 2013. Besides the number of hospitals, the available capacity in terms of number of beds also increased.

From 2003 to 2007, the number of hospital beds in the private hospitals grew by 40.6 percent, while that of the public hospitals grew by 10.5 percent.

Some of the Singapore-based companies’ projects in the Middle East include: Parkway’s Danat Al Emarat hospital management project in Abu Dhabi; AsiaMedic’s consultancy and management project with Mubadala Healthcare for a Wellness and Diagnostic Centre in Abu Dhabi; and Mach 7’s project to provide technology solutions to collect, store, organize and transmit medical data for application in the Qatari Healthcare System.

The 11 companies in the mission – Asian Centre for Liver Diseases & Transplantation Pte Ltd, Cadi Scientific Pte Ltd, Economic Development Board, Mach7 Technologies (Aspac) Pte Ltd, National Healthcare Group, National University Hospital (S) Pte Ltd, Novahealth Pte Ltd, Parkway Holdings Limited, Singapore Health Services Pte Ltd, Singapore Medical Group Ltd, and ST Logistics Pte Ltd – have all long track record in the healthcare management and services industry.

The country’s sound government policies have enabled Singapore to rank as Asia’s most stable country. It also has a reputation for being responsive to changes and is willing to adapt quickly to new and unforeseen circumstances by modifying its policies. The government likewise encourages private sector initiative.

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